Qatar Insurance Company (QIC, QIC Group or the Group), the leading insurer in the MENA region, announced its financial results for the first quarter of 2020. Following a remote meeting presided over by Sheikh Khalid bin Mohammed bin Ali Al-Thani, Chairman and Managing Director, QIC’s Board of Directors approved the Group’s Q1 2020 financial results. The company weathered substantial headwinds related to the global COVID-19 pandemic, the lockdown in most of the leading economies worldwide and an unprecedented levels of capital market volatility. Despite these challenging circumstances, QIC Group reported a 5% increase in gross written premiums to QAR 3.7 billion for Q1 2020, up from QAR 3.5 billion for the corresponding period in 2019. The Group continued to execute its strategic priorities; namely, expanding QIC’s domestic operations in the MENA markets and refocusing its international business towards lower severity and higher frequency lines of business.
In Q1 2020, QIC Group’s international business continues on its path of judicious growth in select low volatile businesses while reducing its exposure to high severity risks. In the regional markets, the Group’s operations remained focused on driving forward the digitization of its personal lines business. In Q1 2020, gross premium volume for the domestic business grew by 18%, continuing to produce stable and reliable underwriting profits.
QIC Group’s underwriting performance in Q1 2020 was impacted by the uncertainties from the COVID-19 pandemic and the associated lockdowns across the world. Although little is yet known as to the full extent and duration of COVID-19 and its business / economic impact, QIC Group has adopted a conservative approach. The Group reported a net underwriting result in the first quarter of QAR 11 million as compared to QAR 166 million for the corresponding period in 2019.
The Group cemented its position in the MENA region as the leading insurer. QIC has, once again, been recognized for its accomplishments as the “Best Personal Insurance Company MENA 2019” at the Global Banking & Finance Review Awards, conducted by the Global Banking & Finance Review ® publication. The award reflects the innovation, achievements, strategy, progressive and inspirational changes that QIC has contributed to the marketplace.
In Q1 2020, QIC entered into a strategic collaboration with Swiss Re, a leading global reinsurance company, to offer its internally developed, best-in-class insurance administration platform called Anoud+ to emerging market insurance carriers. As part of the collaboration, QIC will integrate specialised offerings into its platform to help insurers oversee and manage their underwriting strategy and monitor their exposure to natural catastrophes. Pursuant to this, QIC established an IT services subsidiary in the Qatar Financial Centre (QFC) called Anoud Technologies LLC.
On the asset side, QIC’s investment portfolio was not immune to the shock waves that the COVID-19 crisis sent through global capital markets. While equities suffered steep declines, government bond yields fell as investors sought for a safe haven. In light of the existing volatility in the market, QIC Group’s net investment result, including realized and unrealized gains and losses, amounted to QAR 34 million for Q1 2020, as compared to QAR 293 million in Q1 2019.
During the reporting period, the Group also continued its endeavour to enhance its operational efficiency through the automation and digitization of its internal processes. The success of these measures is reflected in the Group’s results, as QIC improved the administrative expense ratio for its core operations to 5.5% in the quarter, compared to 5.9% for the previous year’s period. Overall, the consolidated net loss for Q1 2020 stood at QAR 186 million, as compared to a net profit of QAR 272 million for the previous year’s period.
In the face of global uncertainties of historic proportions, the Group’s capital and liquidity position is robust. We are currently in the process of shoring up our already strong balance sheet by issuing up to USD 300m in perpetual subordinated Tier 2 qualifying capital notes. This additional capital is expected to qualify as Tier 2 Capital under Qatar Central Bank regulations for the solvency ratio calculations.
QIC Group President, Mr. Khalifa Abdulla Turki Al Subaey, said: “Our Q1 2020 results were impacted by unprecedented challenges facing the global economy and the insurance industry. Despite the prevailing turbulence, we continue to take proactive measures to strengthen our market position, maintain rigorous expense discipline and to execute our regional and global strategies. Meanwhile, we are taking decisive actions to protect our policyholders and shareholders against the potential adverse consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic.”
He continued: “While there remains too much uncertainty to provide precise outlook for the rest of 2020, based on our underlying strengths, diversified business model and exceptional financial position, we look forward to weathering these difficult times and emerging stronger from this challenge.”